Clement Attlee’s Message to British Oil Workers

A Pep Talk From the Premier (August 23, 1951)

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | December 5, 2023                   

British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (Labor Party)

In this message to British personnel in Abadan, Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that most British oil workers would be withdrawn, and thanked those leaving and remaining for their service. It was released alongside a Foreign Office statement on Iran’s rejection of the Harriman-Stokes proposal.

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC/BP) | Archive
British Foreign Office documents on Iran

Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s
Message to Oil Workers

August 23, 1951

Now that the Lord Privy Seal’s mission have returned to this country, His Majesty’s Government have decided, with the full concurrence of your company, that the British staff of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Persia should be withdrawn from the oilfields, and that the British staff in Abadan should be reduced to the minimum necessary to preserve the important British interests which are involved in the efficient maintenance of the oil industry of Persia.

For some months now you have endured exasperating conditions created by the Persian authorities in Abadan, and in the oilfields. Here at home we have followed your conduct with admiration.

Some of you will now be able to come home. Others will be asked to stay in Abadan, to show that the British oil industry is not deserting Persia, but remains ready to reach an agreement which will provide for efficient management of the Persian oil industry, security for the British technicians, and the continued flow of Persian oil into world markets.

The Persian oil industry has been built up by British skill in partnership with Persian labour and resources. Many Persians know that unless that partnership continues, the industry cannot be run efficiently.

The present Persian Government admits that British technicians are required, but they will not agree to any arrangement which you would find acceptable.

The Persian people will, I hope, soon realise the harm which their present Government is causing in Persia. I hope, too, that they will understand that the British oil industry is willing to reach a fair agreement under which Persia would receive an equal share in the profits of her industry which could be used for the economic development of the country.

I therefore ask those of you who stay behind in Abadan to bear your hardships with patience until reason prevails.

Your chairman and I know that you will readily do so, supported as you are by your own keen interest in the industry, by the legal authority of an order of the International Court of Justice, and by the mass of public opinion in this country.

• Notes: Lord Privy Seal = Richard Stokes. Chairman = AIOC Chairman William Fraser


Related links:

British Premier Clement Attlee | Labour Party Manifesto Speech (Oct. 1, 1951)

They Wanted To Use Force In Persia | Ian Colvin, Oct. 22, 1952

Winston Churchill Laments Declining British Empire (Oct. 2, 1951 Campaign Speech)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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